Meet: Dr Noria Mabasa, 84-Year-Old Renowned Sculptor

Noria Mabasa is considered to be a South African living treasure who has been practicing and perfecting her artistic practice as a sculptor since 1974.

She is a custodian of indigenous knowledge and is a respected teacher who willingly shares her knowledge and skills.

Known for her pottery and wood sculptures, she is a recipient of the 2002 Silver category of the Order of the Baobab, also receiving several other national and international accolades and awards for her outstanding artistry and creativity.

Motivated by a series of dreams in which her ancestors spoke to her, she turned to wood as her chosen medium. Making her the first Venda woman to work in wood, she broke cultural and gender stereotypes with the material having been the preserve of male sculptors.

Mam Noria’s carvings depict Venda mythology and spirituality, as well as portraying traditional ceremonies and the daily lives of those in her community: women, children and babies. She explores the hardships women suffered under apartheid: violence, loss and displacement, while dealing with themes of race and gender. Her artworks depict the harsh realities of life in rural areas and work towards social transformation.

Mam Noria currently resides at the Tshino village in the Vuwani area of Venda, where she runs an art school in which she instructs her students in the art of clay-pot and sculpture making.

Numerous articles have been written about her and are in circulation both locally and internationally including a recent book published and released by the Department of Arts and Culture in 2019.

Her artworks have been exhibited extensively both locally and internationally and grace numerous important private, corporate and public collections


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